Minamino strikes as Saints earn a point


Southampton ended a six-game losing run in the Premier League as they produced an impressive effort to earn a hard-fought point at home to Chelsea.

Facing an in-form side that had won five straight since the appointment of new boss Thomas Tuchel, Saints took a first-half lead through Takumi Minamino’s second goal for the club, only for a Mason Mount penalty early in the second half to peg them back.

Nonetheless, Ralph Hasenhüttl’s team did a fine job of limiting the opportunities for Chelsea and, although they too found it hard to create chances of their own, they were good value for a point.

Hasenhüttl made two changes for the game, both of which were enforced, as Kyle Walker-Peters and Stuart Armstrong missed out through injury, with Mohammed Salisu and Moussa Djenepo coming into the starting line-up.

Salisu, making his full Premier League debut, went in as the left-sided centre-back, alongside Jannik Vestergaard, with Jan Bednarek being moved out into a less familiar right-back position.

For Chelsea, there were four changes, with Édouard Mendy returning in goal, while N’Golo Kanté, Reece James and Kurt Zouma were also included, with Kepa Arrizabalaga, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Andreas Christensen and Jorginho making way.

It was James who nearly had a significant early impact for the visitors, being picked out in space down the inside-right on six minutes and clipping a delicate cross perfectly into the path of a free Marcos Alonso on the opposite side of the area, but his volley back across goal bounced a couple of yards wide.

That proved to be the only chance either side created in the opening stages, as the game settled into a long period of Chelsea largely controlling possession, but with the Saints defence standing firm.

In fact, it wasn’t until the 29th minute – when Antonio Rüdiger sent in a low drive from distance which Alex McCarthy comfortably collected – that either side managed another effort.

For Saints, it would take until 33 minutes for their first to arrive. When it did, though, it was well worth the wait.

A nice passage of passing worked the ball to Redmond just inside the Chelsea half, and he then played a cutting through pass that split the visiting defence and put Minamino through. As he advanced on goal, the Japan international displayed tremendous composure, faking to shoot which simultaneously allowed a back-tracking César Azpilicueta to slide right past him and Mendy to bite and dive to his left, creating a clear path to the net which he gratefully tapped into.

Alex McCarthy was then called upon to keep the lead intact, flinging himself to his left to save a Zouma header after he had snuck in behind to meet Alonso’s deep free-kick delivery.

It all meant that, despite Chelsea’s dominance of the ball, Saints took a slender lead into half-time.

Chelsea boss Tuchel was prompted into a change at the break, as he took Tammy Abraham off and sent Hudson-Odoi on in his place.

As they did in the first, the visitors started the second half well, and Timo Werner issued a reminder of his threat five minutes in when he worked space on the left side of the area before firing a low shot into the side netting from a tight angle.

Although that chance went begging for them, the equaliser would arrive soon after for Chelsea, and it came via the penalty spot.

Danny Ings’s mistimed tackle on Mount gave referee Anthony Taylor a simple decision, and Mount himself took the resulting spot-kick, sending McCarthy the wrong way and safely finding the corner.

Saints responded well to the setback, though, and kept the visitors quiet in the aftermath of their goal, and they almost regained the lead on 71 minutes when Redmond’s cross from the left picked out Vestergaard, who had stayed up from a preceding corner, with his header back across goal beating Mendy only for it to hit the top of the bar and go over.

Hasenhüttl then made his first change of the afternoon, as Nathan Tella replaced Minamino with 15 minutes left on the clock, while Tuchel made a pair of substitutions at the same time, introducing Hakim Ziyech for Mateo Kovacic, while Hudson-Odoi ended a short-lived appearance when he was withdrawn for Jorginho.

Saints survived a scare with a little more than five minutes left, when Mount danced down the left and clipped in a cross that found James in space at the back post, but he skied his half-volley wide from a dangerous position.

Hasenhüttl immediately made his second substitution, sending on Ché Adams in place of Ings.

Chelsea continued in their efforts to apply pressure, but as three minutes of added time were signalled Saints were still standing firm.

They even raised hopes of a dramatic late winner themselves, when Tella forced a corner in the final minute of additional time, but James Ward-Prowse's delivery was just over the head of Vestergaard.

Redmond was then withdrawn for Dan Nlundulu and, moments after, Taylor's whistle blew for the final time and Saints could reflect on a well-deserved point.